Regional Sea Ice


This tool examines sub-Arctic regional sea ice extent and sea ice area for 15 sub-Arctic Ocean regions. Sea ice extent and area are calculating using sea ice concentration data produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) as a Climate Data Record. Recent, preliminary data is based on the Climate Data Record sea ice concentration variable while historical values are based on the Goddard merged sea ice concentration variable. Using these two variables in concert allows analysis back to November 1978 through the most recent month. Anomalies are based on 1981-2010 means of the sea ice extent and area values for each basin.

The input satellite data is not available directly over the North Pole, but in more recent years we have obtained measurements closer to 90° north. This means that the size of the “pole hole” has continued to shrink in the data analysis. This data artifact directly impacts the extent and area for the Central Arctic region. This tool provides analysis for the Central Arctic assuming both the “pole hole” is 100% ice covered and omitting the missing data points (no pole hole). Each analysis has its strengths and weaknesses based on differing assumptions, but both are provided here. The changing North Pole Hole size tends to directly impact the calculation of sea ice area. For sea ice extent, assuming the sea ice concentration is at least 15% is a fairly valid assumption over the Central Arctic. However, for sea ice area, assuming the sea ice concentration is 100% may be less accurate. Therefore, it primarily impacts the calculation of the sea ice area.

Arctic Sub Region Definitions

region definitions
1. Sea of Japan665,189256,831
2. Sea of Okhotsk1,650,486637,256
3. Bering Sea2,289,251883,884
4. Hudson Bay1,192,131460,284
5. Gulf of Saint Lawrence653,435252,293
6. Baffin Bay2,651,9061,023,906
7. Greenland Sea2,851,7911,101,082
8. Barents Sea1,664,741642,760
9. Kara Sea924,699357,028
10. Laptev Sea885,109341,742
11. East Siberian Sea1,323,280510,921
12. Chukchi Sea838,414323,713
13. Beaufort Sea938,663362,420
14. Canadian Archipelago749,437289,359
15. Central Arctic Ocean3,216,0171,241,711